Wednesday 30 September 2015

What can/will we (the Hutterites) do for the Syrian Refuge Crisis?

Have you seen the disturbing image of the three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan who washed ashore on a Turkish beach? If you have, I'm sure you agree, it's too sad for words. In case you missed it, The Kurdi family, a couple with their two boys, Aylan, 3, and five-year-old Ghalib were on a boat, fleeing their homeland, Syria heading to the Greek island of Kos when it capsized. The mom and both boys drowned.

Sadly, we lost our chance to help three members of this family, but there are millions of others who still desperately need help. This is a crisis we should not turn our backs on. I'm especially pleading with Hutterites to reach out.

In the 1970's and 80's many Vietnamese "boat people" came to Canada. That time some Hutterite colonies sponsored refugees. They lived right on the colonies for up to a year, till they were able to find work and support themselves. From what I hear this was an enriching experience for both the Vietnamese and the Hutterites. Some stayed in contact with their Hutterite friends for many years. These Vietnamese went on to make a good life for themselves here in Canada. Today, some are even running their own businesses.

Just recently I heard how one day a Hutterite man from one of those colonies met a Vietnamese man at his workplace. He recognized the last name on his shirt and said, "My colony sponsored a family with your name many years ago." The man got very excited and replied, "That was my family. We stayed on your colony." He shook the Hutterite's hand and thanked him for the kindness shown to his family. Today, there's another crisis that is calling us to practice "love thy neighbour".

As Hutterites, I believe it's our moral and Christian duty to reach out to the Syrian refugees. I know some colonies are already looking into learning what's involved to sponsor families. Just think about what an impact it would make, if every colony would sponsor a family or two. We can and should get involved. Matthew 25: verses 37-40 makes it quite clear what we ought to do: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

With all we've been blessed with, we should feel compelled to show some empathy and to share with those less fortunate -  the Syrian refugees fall in that category. It simply would not be right to not get involved in this crisis, especially since we have the means to do so.

We can't even begin to imagine what it would feel like, having to flee your homeland. Oh, we probably feel we can relate on some level, since our forefathers were forced to flee many times. But reading about those historic accounts is a far cry from living them. Like the Vietnam refugees, we (the Hutterite people) too were migrants to this country and have made a wonderfully, comfortable life for ourselves. Will we show the same compassion that was shown to us? I hope and pray we can find it in ourselves to show love and support to these refugees.

Some time ago, I read Marcy Markusa's thought-provoking CBC blog and like her I ask, "What's holding us back?"


  1. You should help them in Lebanon and Turkey, or other regions in the Middle-East.Sponsoring them to invade/colonize other countries is neither a solution nor will it help them.

  2. Over 400 years ago the Hutterites immigrated from Russia to a new country, the US, then later to Canada, and were welcomed. How can we not show others the same courtesy?


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